Mother Earth Living

In the Garden

Get down and dirty in the garden

Add to My MSN

CSA Enhances Sustainable Lifestyle in Midcoast Maine Ecovillage

2/14/2014 12:08:00 PM

Tags: CSA, Gardening, Ecovillage, Healthy Lifestyle, Sarah Lozanova

Our Sunday mornings begin with swiss chard, cauliflower, and piles of carrots. Once a week, our neighbors harvest veggies from our local community supported agriculture (CSA) farm. It is a worker-share arrangement, so each member works a couple hours each week, or else pays in a larger sum to receive a share of the harvest.

Tiling Land

Little River Community Farm was started by members of Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage (BC&E), a multigenerational community in Midcoast Maine on 42-acres that will contain 36 units when complete next year. The homes feature a passive house design, are highly energy efficient, and are oriented to make good use of the sun. BC&E has just three unsold units and having an on-site CSA is an alluring benefit for some potential homebuyers.

The farm helps further the sustainability values of the community and promotes a healthy lifestyle. It is boosting the soil quality of the several acres it uses by planting buckwheat, millet, vetch, and pea cover crops that boost nitrogen, retain topsoils, and boost organic matter, thus boosting the fertility of the land for years to come.

Planting Seeds

"To me, a really important part of being a member of BC&E was there being a farm where we would raise food and work together," says Jeffrey Mabee, a member of BC&E and Little River Community Farm, and an avid gardener. "The CSA has really answered my prayers about that. Having young farmers using the land in such a responsible way feels right. The farm feels like the heart of any intentional community. It has a much greater significance than merely producing food."

When my family made the move from Wisconsin to Maine in August, we arrived with no established garden. The CSA had started harvesting the fall share and we had instant access to high-quality and extremely local veggies. After a big move, it is particularly gratifying to eat local foods and get acquainted with local flavors.

Some community members really appreciate how BCE helps promote a healthy lifestyle. With limited automobile access and clustered homes, it is appealing to walk to visit neighbors. The presence of the CSA promotes culinary exploration and a high content of vegetables in the diet. The weekly harvests help keep us active as we pick and haul the veggies to be distributed.

Harvesting Produce

The support from BC&E has been essential for Little River Community Farm to have a successful first season, including having people trade use of a tractor or tools for a free share in the CSA. "It’s great to work with the community and have the support," explains Amy Adamson, member of BC&E and one of the founders of Little River Community Farm. "Starting a farm without support can be a huge investment of time and money to establish the needed farming infrastructure."

There is a desire by many BC&E members to see the farm become lucrative for its founders. "There are cohousing communities that have grown high-priced vegetables that restaurants are willing to buy, such as mushrooms and mixed lettuces," says Judith Grace, Jeffrey’s wife, and a member of BC&E and Little River Community Farm. "That’s been the way they’ve been able to turn a profit. Maybe this group will decide to do that."

Some of the downsides of a worker-share CSA are luxury problems: figuring out how to use or preserve several bunches of kale in one week, learning to prepare less known crops such as mustard greens, and helping out in cold or rainy weather. This has provoked community members to make jokes about using kohlrabi as a paperweights and weaving baskets from green onions.

This scenario can also create an opportunity. I’ve learned to store, freeze, and pickle a variety of veggies this year and I have a large stockpile for the colder months.

"One of the things I enjoy most is the veggies that we wouldn’t bother or simply haven’t grown for ourselves over the years," says Judith. "It’s opened up new tastes and dishes. Kohlrabi or fennel for instance comes to mind."

The founders of Little River Community Farm have demonstrated that they are driven largely by their principles. "I love the idea of teaching people how to grow food," says Amy. "I think a lot of people don’t understand how inexpensive it is to have their own garden. A lot of people could get much healthier food if they grew their own. They just have to invest their time in it."

Photos by Jeffrey Mabee of Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage


Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and communications professional with an MBA in sustainable management. She recently relocated to BelfastCohousing & Ecovillage in Midcoast Maine with her husband and two children. 



Related Content

Raising Children in a Multi-Generational Ecovillage

Guest blogger Sarah Lozanova details her excitement about raising her children in a multi-generation...

Our First Winter in a High-Performance Energy-Efficient Home

See how an energy-efficient house faired it’s first winter in Maine.

Community Living: New Urbanism, Ecovillages, Cohousing

As interest in green living grows, community living is being transformed from a fringe notion to a p...

Creative Clan: Scotland's Findhorn Foundation

Ecovillage is based on shared ecological, social, and spiritual values. The community focuses on hol...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

MY COMMUNITY
no image
valerykenery
8/29/2014 12:04:10 AM
no image
HarvestRight
8/21/2014 5:22:39 PM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 10:03:07 AM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 9:59:22 AM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 9:30:07 AM
no image
melisastarr
8/19/2014 12:57:22 PM
no image
Peggy McMahan
8/18/2014 11:29:51 AM


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.